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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political notes: New ads, a new designation for Dan Cox, new gigs for Dereck Davis and Sheila McDonald, and more

Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox speaks to supporters at the opening of his campaign headquarters in Annapolis. Photo by Bruce DePuyt.

Yuripzy Morgan (R), the attorney and former WBAL Radio personality who is challenging eight-term U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) in the 3rd District, began airing her first TV ad of the general election on Tuesday.

The 30-second spot seeks to contrast Morgan’s humble beginnings as the daughter of an immigrant who worked as a “roughneck” with Sarbanes’ own status as the son of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D). The ad features Morgan on a tree-lined path addressing the camera, with still pictures interspersed.

“Today’s politics is toxic, government is broken,” Morgan says in the ad, “but like Governor Hogan, I’ll be an independent voice, supporting policies that educate our kids, rein in spending, and curb inflation, that support women with choice, and find common ground on immigration.”

“My father was an immigrant, a roughneck,” Morgan continues, “unlike my opponent, John Sarbanes, I’m no senator’s son. I didn’t inherit a political dynasty, I inherited something better — the American Dream.”

The campaign said it has made a “six-figure buy” to air the ad on broadcast and digital platforms. Morgan is banking on making a dent against the previously politically bulletproof incumbent in a district whose lines have changed considerably since the 2020 election. The 3rd District now includes much of Anne Arundel County and parts of Howard and Carroll counties.

Sarbanes, who does not live in the district, is still the strong favorite.

A new Dawn in District 33

Dawn Gile, the highly-touted Democratic candidate for state Senate in the competitive 33rd District in Anne Arundel County, also began airing a 30-second TV ad on Tuesday.

The ad draws heavily on Gile’s family — using her three daughters to highlight the candidate’s commitment to reproductive freedom and women’s issues and her husband’s status as a military veteran to show her dedication to veterans and military families.

“My three daughters make sure I know how much is at stake these days,” Gile says at the top of the ad. She goes on to mention the environment, including cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay; school safety; women’s issues (the visuals include a Ruth Bader Ginsburg doll); and supporting military families.

“I want to earn your trust and your vote, so I can get to work for my family and yours,” she says.

Gile is locked in a tough battle with Del. Sid Saab (R) in the race to replace Sen. Ed Reilly (R), who is retiring. The district was once a Republican stronghold but has been trending Democratic, enhanced in part by the newest legislative district map.

Gile has a fundraiser scheduled for Thursday evening that’s headlined by Amy McGrath, a former U.S. Senate nominee in Kentucky who has focused on military families and Democrats winning Secretary of State elections across the U.S.

Saab has a fundraiser scheduled for Friday evening with former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) as the headline attraction.

National LCV gives Cox a Bronx cheer

The national League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund this week put Del. Dan Cox, the Republican nominee for governor, on its “Dirty Dozen in the States” list. That’s the green group’s list of 12 of the candidates running for state office with the worst environmental records in the country.

Cox was added to the list Monday along with three other Republican candidates for governor: Tim Michels in Wisconsin, Mark Ronchetti in New Mexico and Bob Stefanowski in Connecticut.

“Governors are going to be the key leaders to decide how we build a clean energy future,” said Pete Maysmith LCV Victory Fund senior vice president of campaigns. “We need leaders who will fight for environmental justice, good paying jobs, and stand up to big polluters. These four candidates would take us in the opposite direction at the worst possible time.”

The LCV noted Cox’s 16% lifetime score from the Maryland LCV, along with his status “as a far-right MAGA candidate” as reasons for putting him on the Dirty Dozen list. The Maryland LCV endorsed Wes Moore in the Democratic primary and is sticking with him in the general election.

Treasurer for ‘Team 30 Slate’ pleads guilty to theft of campaign funds 

A former treasurer for a slate that included the late House Speaker Michael Busch (D) and state Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) has admitted stealing campaign funds and using them to pay personal expenses.

Special Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard III announced last week that Alexandra “Allie” Gilbreath transferred more than $4,300 from the “Team 30 Slate” to her personal Venmo account and to her roommate’s account.

The improper transfers occurred between October 2018 and January 2019, Howard’s office said.

Following her guilty plea, Gilbreath was sentenced by Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Wachs to one year of probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay $4,321 in restitution.

“It is essential to the success of our electoral process that campaign officers are honest stewards of funds donated to campaigns, and our office will continue to work to ensure compliance with our State’s election laws,” Howard said in a statement.

According to a “statement of facts” that Gilbreath and state prosecutors agreed to, she transferred $1,000 from the slate’s bank account to her roommate’s Venmo account to cover her rent. “The payments to [the roommate] with money from the ‘Team 30 Slate’ bank account were for Gilbreath’s personal rent and groceries and not in any way related to the purposes of ‘Team 30 Slate.’”

The thefts occurred in 2018 and 2019, when the Team 30 Slate included Busch, Elfreth and others.

Efforts to reach Gilbreath last week were unsuccessful. On Facebook over the weekend, Gilbreath wrote, “My tank is on E.”

In May, the Capital Gazette described her as a a 36-year-old former lobbyist living in Annapolis. She did not have an attorney at the time the charges were filed.

Elfreth told the paper that she and other candidates affiliated with the District 30 committee referred the matter to the state Board of Elections in 2019 “as soon as we got the sense something was not right.”

Davis tapped by Aspen Institute

Maryland Treasurer Dereck E. Davis (D), who became the state’s second Black treasurer in December, has been selected for a national program designed to bridge the partisan divide in politics.

His office announced Tuesday the 55-year-old Prince George’s County resident will participate in the 2023 Rodel Fellowship program managed by the Aspen Institute.

The leadership program, founded in 2005, selects 24 state and local leaders — half Democrats and half Republicans — to participate in a series of seminars over a two-year period. The Aspen Institute believes each person chosen will seek to work to reduce partisan rancor and push for civil discourse.

The fellows will read and discuss texts that come from the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and writings by Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is an honor to be selected as a Rodel fellow,” Davis said. “I look forward to developing a greater understanding of our nation’s greatest teachings that I can apply in my own leadership position, as well as learning from my other cohort.”

Some leaders chosen for the Rodel Fellowship in the past include Thomas Kovach (R), an attorney, adjunct professor and former Delaware state representative (Class of 2010); Libby Schaaf (D), the mayor of Oakland, Calif. (Class of 2015); and Lauren McLean (D), the first woman elected mayor of Boise, Idaho, in 2020 (Class of 2017).

Former BPW secretary to law firm

Speaking of the Board of Public Works, where Davis sits as state treasurer, the law firm of O’Malley, Miles, Nylen & Gilmore, P.A. has hired Sheila McDonald as its newest attorney. McDonald worked for the Board of Public Works for a quarter century before retiring in 2019 as BPW secretary, a position she held for 17 years.

“With her vast experience in State government, especially with the Board of Public Works and in procurement and capital budget matters, Sheila will be a tremendous asset to our firm,” said William M. Shipp, the firm’s managing director.

McDonald worked first for the BPW as its first general counsel. She has also worked for the Maryland attorney general’s office and in private practice, and was a clerk for a District of Columbia Court of Appeals judge.


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Political notes: New ads, a new designation for Dan Cox, new gigs for Dereck Davis and Sheila McDonald, and more